Maintaining your company’s unique culture can be challenging on its own, and when you’re expanding it can seem nearly impossible. This is particularly the case for small businesses that are growing exponentially. When you only have a handful of employees, it’s easier to preserve your company culture. But when you go from hundreds to thousands of employees, the culture you fought to establish can be at risk. Here are a few ways retailers can protect their company culture during extensive growth periods.
Beware of Overexpansion
When businesses expand too quickly, they tend to overextend themselves and don’t have time to work out the kinks. This can have serious consequences — just ask Target
. They expanded into Canada with a rapid retail rollout (124 stores in the first year) but withdrew from the country after only two years. There were many contributing factors to Target’s failure in the Canada, but failing to perpetuate their culture was one of the largest. If your new employees aren't exhibiting your brand value, it can sabotage any hopes of successful expansion. Slow and strategic growth is always a better option for your company’s bottom line and culture.
Keep Your Employees Close Joanne Chang
grew a bakery and restaurant business from a dozen employees to more than 260, yet continues to prioritize face time. She has frequent discussions with her management team and makes it a point to meet each employee because she understands the intrinsic value of face-to-face interaction. While it likely isn’t realistic for your company’s executives to get to know every single employee, they should still attempt to stay in touch with employees as the company expands. That could mean regularly meeting with a team of managers to understand what is happening on the frontlines, or holding town halls with employees for open Q&A sessions. However you make it work, remaining close with your staff is essential to ensure your company’s culture remains intact.
Hire the Right Talent – and Keep It
Retaining your company culture starts with hiring the right people. Onboarding employees who embody the same values as your organization are critical. Use the hiring process itself to begin instilling your corporate culture in prospective employees. But don’t stop when they get hired. Keep your staff trained and up to date with the information needed as the company grows. Banana Republic has found great success
in running mental toughness programs for their managers to handle the challenges of expansion and growth.
Maintaining your company culture doesn’t mean that it won’t evolve along with your growing business. It doesn’t have to stay the same, and in many cases, it can’t. The key is ensuring your culture always reflects the mission of your company and the values your employees hold.